Natural free convection in porous media: First field documentation in groundwater



[1] Natural free convection is a process of great importance in disciplines from hydrology to meteorology, oceanography, planetary sciences, and economic geology, and for applications in carbon sequestration and nuclear waste disposal. It has been studied for over a century – but almost exclusively in theoretical and laboratory settings. Despite its importance, conclusive primary evidence of free convection in porous media does not currently exist in a natural field setting. Here, we present recent electrical resistivity measurements from a sabkha aquifer near Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, where large density inversions exist. The geophysical images from this site provide, for the first time, compelling field evidence of fingering associated with natural free convection in groundwater.